The (non-)State of Syria
A piece from Foreign Policy notes:
Syria, after all, is today divided into no less than seven enclaves: the territory controlled by the regime, three separate areas of rebel control, two Kurdish cantons, and the Islamic State area. What is the government’s strategy to reverse this fragmentation, I ask? ”We have absolute faith that this is a temporary situation,” Tourjman replied. “[T]he major reason for this faith is that the Syrian people start to understand the conspiracy against them.”
In other words, there is no strategy at all, but the kind of conspiracy theories that no self-respecting Baathist should be without. In fact, no evidence exists of any overarching plan to divide Syria — nor do any of the major forces in the country support its breakup. Syria’s de facto division is a result of the inability of any force to prevail over all the others, not of design.
In regards to the future and Russia’s role:
As the fighting in eastern Aleppo showed, the government side only makes real progress when the Russians commit to ensuring its victory. So the crucial question is of Russian, not Syrian, intentions — and Moscow may well have already achieved most of what it came to Syria to achieve. It has ensured the safety of its bases in Latakia province and the survival of its regime allies, demonstrated the efficacy of Russian arms, and guaranteed there can be no diplomatic process to settle the war without Moscow’s involvement.
These are significant accomplishments. But it is also the case that a further Russian commitment to finishing off the rebellion could result in the unpleasant situation in which a cash-strapped Russia finds itself saddled with the responsibility for the reconstruction of a ruined Syria on the basis of “you broke it, you own it.”
The whole piece is worth a read.